The last couple of weeks have been really busy here in the workshop, but some projects are beginning to wrap up and there is that delightful pause before new projects beckon so I thought I'd add a new category to The Courtyard called "Notes from the Workshop", in which I'll post from time to time on what's going on behind-the-scenes here at Avlea.
Pamela, my friend, neighbor, and new workshop assistant, continues to change my life by her constant help and cheerful input (and, she's learning to figure out when I'm talking to myself and when I'm talking to her--hint: most of the time I'm talking to myself!). She's helping me get caught up on so many things and it's not only making making everything more efficient, it's freeing me up to focus on the creative side of things without having to cram design work into all the odd bits of time in my life (evenings, weekends, etc). I'm getting more down time and more time with my family and that is definitely having a positive effect on my creativity!
I'm currently in the middle of the following projects:
Byzantine Band Sampler (see photo below)--I finished the sample stitching and it just looked kinda meh, so I added a new outer border and now it sings! I'll be finishing it as a wall hanging, but I'm also playing around with making some smaller projects using some of the borders individually--first up is a new little drawstring bag for my eyeglasses (this will be the "re-invention" of the old BitBag kits that I offered in the very early days of Avlea).
BitKit Grapevine--Rabbit Row Yarns in upstate NY (one of my lovely shop clients) asked if I could make a grapevine design for an event they have this fall, and I suddenly realized that no Mediterranean embroidery designer worth her salt would not have a grapevine design, so I got right on that! In addition to the small BitKit, I'm also going to develop it into a larger square design, but that will be awhile until I get that one stitched :)
Byzantine Beasts--I'm getting ready to kit up the Byzantine Beasts quiet book project that I'll be stitching for my granddaughter's birthday in the fall. I still need to play around with the construction method, but the design is coming along so well--there are playful dogs,a little duck family, sweet butterflies, a majestic peacock, and even a cheeky parrot! I'm going to try and release it as both a quiet book and as a wall hanging and still figuring out how to put that much info into one pattern since each of those finishings requires a totally different layout of the pattern. Stay tuned for how I figure this one out!
H+H Americas show--I'll be displaying Avlea Folk Embroidery at this upcoming wholesale trade show for the soft crafts industry in June in an effort to gain more wholesale clients (for those of you have asked, purchasing your Avlea items through the website is the most beneficial to me, but I want to get the word out about folk embroidery and selling through small shops is a great way to do that) . I'm not really sure what to expect as I've never done this large of a trade show, but am trying to approach this opportunity with a sense of curiosity! The biggest challenge is coming up with a display that fits in my suitcase--the event is held at a big convention center and the fees for getting a box from the loading dock to the booth are rawwwther steep ($125 per load!) so I had to come up with something small and portable. After much deliberation, I've finally designed large-scale "wall hangings" that I'm making out of PVC pipe (did you know you can "paint" them gold with a Sharpie?!) that will have cotton backdrops on to which I'll pin all the sample embroideries. So, kind of like wall hangings upon wall hangings. Let's just hope it looks as good in person as it does in my mind!
Taproot magazine--I've got a new article and project (Thracian Forest table runner) coming out in their May issue and I'm currently finishing up another article and project for their August issue. It's always a delight to work with Taproot--they're lovely people and so supportive of all kinds of handcraft. The new project is an article on repurposing fabric and so I came up with a project of an apron with embroidered pocket borders, which is, yet again, moving me in a direction to combine my sewing expertise with my stitching designs. I'm loving this sort of creative "cross-pollination" and am just starting to think about all sorts of little things you could make with folk embroidered borders and small motifs.
Downtime--last, but certainly not least, one of the "projects" I'm working at is giving myself the downtime I need. As a small business owner and creative type, there's always another email, another project, another special request, another design, another inspiration, and while it keeps the work day interesting, it can lead to a overwhelming sense of "never being done" which, at least for me, robs creative flow. Learning to honor my need for downtime feels like a lesson I am constantly learning, unlearning, and re-learning, but I find that the busier I am, conversely, the more I need time to rest and refresh. So, moving forward I'm working to embrace a schedule that provides this much-needed regenerative time. I might be a smidge slower to answer emails, or a new design might take a bit longer to release, but know that I'll be working on everything with a greater sense of peace, joy, and intention.